Panic by Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver’s dystopia trilogy Delirium was awesome, so I was excited to pick up her latest YA novel. Panic is a high-stakes game played by the graduating senior class in a small town. Contestants compete in increasingly dangerous stunts for the chance to win $60K. The setting is bleak and claustrophobic; it almost makes sense how winning the game might seem like the only way out. Heather and Dodge are the two protagonists, competitors who ally with each other. Heather desperately needs the money to escape her addicted mother and their trailer home, and Dodge wants to win as revenge for what happened to his sister when she played. There are two nice love stories and some exciting action scenes.
The one thing that strained my credulity was the idea that a game like this could go on for seven years without attracting attention from the press and police, especially considering the number of injuries and even deaths involved. That thought didn’t make the story any less enjoyable though. The relationships, the moral questions, the creative stunts and the twists and surprises made it hard to put down. I mentioned Oliver’s sensitive treatment of class issues in Before I Fall in a previous post; here class is even more important because the characters live closer to the edge, but handled just as deftly and realistically.